1917 – World War I – Pope Benedict XV became pope just a month before the start of the worst war in history up to that time (WWI). He worked fervently for peace. On the 3rd year of the war, with the whole Church, Pope Benedict prayed a novena in honor of Our Lady, the Queen of Peace in petition for the end of the World War I. Mary, the Mother of God, appeared in Fatima on the 8th day of the novena.
May 13, 1917, on Sunday, Lucia (10), Francisco (9) and Jacinta (7) were grazing sheep in the parish of Fatima near Aljustrel in the field known as the Cova da Iria. As was their custom, the three children ate their lunch shortly after noon, and then prayed. Suddenly a flash of light, which they thought must be lightning frightened them. They began to urge on the flock in order to return home before they got caught in a storm. When they had gone a few steps down the slope they saw another flash of light, which they took to be a second flash of lightning and this made them hurry the flock even more. A few steps further on, about half way down the slope, they stopped in surprise when they saw a lovely Lady of light on a small holm oak. They were not afraid because the supernatural does not arouse fear; causing instead a pleasant surprise of absorbing fascination.The lovely Lady opened her lips as if about to speak and said to the children: “Do not be afraid. I will do you no harm.”
(I think that these words of Our Lady — Do not be afraid — did not refer to any actual fear we might have had of Her, because She knew well we were not frightened of Her. The words must have referred to the fear that had caused us to hurry away from the supposed thunderstorm in which we though we were going to get caught. [from “Calls” from the Message of Fatima by Sister Lucia, p126]).
Once the silence had been broken, and encouraged by the trust that the lovely Lady inspired in us, Lucia asked, “Where are you from?”
The Lady replied, “I am from heaven.”
Lucia asked, “And what do you want of me?”
The Lady replied, “I have come to ask you to come here on the 13th day of the month for six months in succession, at this same hour. Later on, I will tell you who I am and what I want. Afterwards, I will return here yet a seventh time.”
When I (Lucia) heard this reply, the thought that I was talking to someone who had come from Heaven gave me courage and I asked whether I, too, would have the good fortune to go to Heaven, whereupon the Lady replied, “Yes you will.” And Jacinta? I asked, “She will go too.” And Francisco? I persisted. She replied, “He will go to, but he must say many Rosaries.”
(I think that this special injunction to Francisco is for all of us. It is not that saying many Rosaries, as such, is an indispensable condition for going to Heaven, but that we must pray much. Naturally, to say the Rosary every day was the most accessible form of prayer for those children, as it is today for the great majority of people, and there is no doubt that it will be difficult for someone to be saved if they never pray, p126).
Lucia asked about a girl Amelia who had recently died. Our Lady’s reply was, “She will be in purgatory until the end of the world.”
(Lucia writes in “Calls” from the Message of Fatima, “This may seem a lot to us, but the mercy of God is always great. By our sins we have gravely offended Him and have deserved Hell! In spite of this, He forgives us and grants us time to pay for them and, by means of reparation and purification, to be saved. Moreover, He accepts the prayers and sacrifices that others offer to Him for the benefit of those who are in this place of expiation, p129).
Our Lady then asked the three children the following question, “Are you willing to offer yourselves to God and bear the sufferings He wills to send you, as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and of supplication for the conversion of sinners?” To which Lucia replied in the name of all three, “Yes, we are willing.”
(At that time, this reply was given spontaneously and in ignorance, because I had not the remotest idea what it really meant nor what its full implications were. But I never regretted it; on the contrary I renew it every day, asking God for the grace and strength that I need to keep it faithfully until the end, p129-130).
Our Lady responded to the children’s humble little, “Yes” with a promise of the help of grace, “Then you are going to have much to suffer, but the grace of God will be your comfort.”
(Putting up with any sacrifices that are asked of us in our day-to-day lives becomes a slow martyrdom which purifies us and raises us up to the level of the supernatural, through the encounter of our soul with God, in the atmosphere of the presence of the Most Holy Trinity within us. We have here an incomparable spiritual richness! Anyone who has understood this lives in Light; in the Light, which is not from the sun nor from the stars, but comes to us from the sources from which every other light springs and receives its being. It is a living Light, which both sees and penetrated as it enlightens, and causes us to see what it wishes to show to us. It is the living light of God, p131).
The Beautiful Lady from Heaven then opened her hands and great streams of light radiated upon the children. Lucia later spoke about that moment: “This light penetrated us to the very depth of our heart, and allowed us to see ourselves in God, Who was that Light, more clearly than we see ourselves in a mirror. Then we were moved by an inner impulse, also communicated to us, to fall on our knees, while repeating,
“Most Holy Trinity, I adore you. My God, My God, I love You in the Most Blessed Sacrament.’”
(This supernatural impulse led the children to believe in the real presence of God in the Eucharist. It is the gift of faith that God grants to our soul with the Sacrament of Baptism, p131).
And Our Lady ended her Message on that 13th May 1917 with the words, “Pray the Rosary every day, in order to obtain peace for the world, and the end of the war.”
(Why should Our Lady have told us to say the Rosary every day rather then telling us to go to Mass every day?
This is a question that I have been asked many times, and it is one which I should like to reply to here. I cannot be absolutely certain of the answer, as Our Lady did not explain, and it never occurred to me to ask. Hence, I say only what I think, and what I have come to understand about it all. In fact, I willingly leave all interpretation of the meaning of the Message to Holy Church, because it pertains to the Church to do so; hence, I humbly and willingly submit myself to whatever It may wish to say or to correct, amend or declare.
As regards the question referred to above, I think that God is Father; and as Father He adapts Himself to the needs and possibilities of His children. Now, if God through Our Lady had asked us to go to Mass and receive Holy Communion every day, there would undoubtedly have been a great many people who would have said, quite rightly, that this was not possible. Some, on account of the distance separating them from the nearest church where Mass was celebrated; others on account of the circumstances of their lives, their state of life, their job, the state of their health, etc. On the other hand, to pray the Rosary is something everybody can do, rich and poor, wise and ignorant, great and small.
All people of good will can, and must, say the Rosary every day. Why? In order to put ourselves into contact with God, to thank Him for his benefits and ask Him for the graces we need. It is the prayer which places us in familiar contact with God like the son that goes to his father to thank him for the gifts he has received, to talk to him about his special concerns to receive his guidance, his help, his support and his blessing.
Since we all need to pray, God asks of us, as a kind of daily installment, a prayer which is within our reach: the Rosary, which can be recited either in common or in private, either in Church in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament or at home, either with the rest of the family or alone, either when travelling or while walking quietly in the fields. A mother of a family can say the Rosary while she rocks her baby’s cradle or does the housework. Our day has twenty four hours in it. It is not asking a great deal to set aside a quarter of an hour for the spiritual life, for our intimate and familiar converse with God.
On the other hand, I believe that, after the liturgical prayer of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the praying of the Rosary, in view of the origin and sublime nature of the prayers used in it, and of the mysteries of the Redemption which we recall and on which we meditate during each decade, is the most pleasing prayer that we can offer to God, and one which is most advantageous to our own souls. If such were not the case, Our Lady would not have asked for it so insistently, p131-132).